A slight drizzle fell as I stared out from underneath my shelter. Resting on the black bar overlooking a steep drop, my eyes were fixed on the ruins on the other side of the canyon. Sounds of iron and steel hitting each other played behind me as the grunts of the Charr race cut between them. It amazed me that I could stand here, in the middle of what was now Charr territory, safely. Most of the race never even payed me any attention at all. Ragnvaldr had been right. I was nothing more than a fly on the wall, and playing to that truth, some Charr were annoyed that I was even there. I bet they’d swat me if they had the opportunity. It was clear that the world around me had changed. Even if I couldn’t remember the past, it was as if I didn’t know the present either. It felt as if I had belonged to neither.
Ragnvaldr and I had been able to find an inn to stay in. It was great being able to sleep in a bed again, a luxury I was beginning to miss. The beds and even the chairs scared me though. They looked more like torture devices with all of the spikes on the headboards and armrests. Apparently it was typical Charr furniture. Their building style matched the sharpness of their claws. It was true that we had underestimated them. They were built for war. While we humans had the ability to cling onto our dear lives, we were outwitted by the war-like cats rather easily. We never really even stood a chance.
Now Rin stood before me in ruins. The stones had began to crumble and vines twisted their way through the cracks. Water had returned to the land and surrounded and submerged parts of the ruins, and somehow the watery grave seemed fitting of the academy and town. A surreal feeling settled as I looked around the canyon.
A hand landed on my shoulder and I immediately recognized it as Ragnvaldr’s. I continued to stare into the past but spoke words to my friend. “I don’t know if I can go through with this. I mean, what if my friends are still there?” I said these words softer than I meant, perhaps it was due to the depressing nature of the subject, but I hoped that he understood them.
“I don’t want you to give up on this.” he surprised me. Usually he was so understanding and bent to my words, “We came all this way… If your friends are out there, there’s nothing more we can do for them, but I’m sure that they would want you to work towards your goal no matter what.”
As much as I called them friends, I didn’t even remember who they might be. Maybe they would root for me, but then again, they could have been only acquaintances, merely people I saw on a daily basis. I had no idea of our connections or even able to remember any faces, just that I must have had someone, anyone. I nodded my head and agreed with him anyway; there was no use in arguing with him. We really had come this far and part of me still wanted to progress forward. If I didn’t, there would always be that lingering feeling that a past friend may have been doomed. At least this way I could know for sure.
We were due to leave at noon and the morning was beginning to draw to a close. I had expected to see sunshine in Ascalon, but the sky was as cloudy as it was in the Shiverpeaks. I wondered what the weather was like back home in Kryta. My mind began to wander as I thought about the busy streets of the Salma district. It quickly brought me back to the letter I had received from Faren. Apparently, Logan wasn’t very thrilled with my decision to forgo his summons. Part of me didn’t care, the other part regretted it and wondered how things would be when I returned home. The second part of the letter detailed many more bandit attacks on the Salma district. Surely I wasn’t the only one who could stop the bandit raids and I was positive that some brave hero would end them soon enough. I felt a pit in my stomach for running away from Divinity’s Reach, which drove me that much more to finish my quest.
Ragnvaldr was obviously ready to leave as I gave one last look to the ruined spires of Rin. He had spent the morning restocking on supplies from the gold I had provided. I had spent the morning lazing about and trying to convince myself that the trip was worth it. His pack was full and I tried to keep up with him as we walked through the Citadel. The dusting of rain had made the metal slopes of the city rather slippery and I tried my best to keep my balance while walking quickly enough to keep at the side of my friend; he was having troubles as well. I suppose the Charr didn’t have as much of a problem. Half of them just got down on all fours and ran through the city like it was nothing.
It surprised me how many humans were actually in the Citadel, along with Norn, Asura, and Sylvari. Each of them seemed to be conversing with one another, making it seem like more of a central hotspot than I originally thought. Sales were taking place on each street, especially between Asura and Charr. They had a lot to offer each other as far as their machines went.
It was easy to get lost in the city, but we had somehow made it through to the eastern gate leading into Ascalon. I had no idea how far we were from Ascalon City, but I was sure to recognize some of the landmarks along the way. I wasn’t going to rely on that alone, though. I had heard that there were a couple of scouts around that were willing to help and I planned to visit them first.
As the gates opened, I felt a familiar rush of wind hit me. Was it really the autumn winds of Ascalon visiting after all of these years? Though droplets of water pelted my face, I allowed the wind to rustle up my hair. It was soft, just like the flashback I had. The familiarity overwhelmed me as the drizzle dampened my body. I questioned what day the searing had happened to myself.
“That looks like the scout,” Ragnvaldr said as he pointed towards a husky Charr, bringing me back from my thoughts. We approached him. He was rather pitiful looking at the moment. The morning rain had drenched his fur, but I was sure that we looked no better.
“Can I help you?” His voice was surprisingly pleasant. No anger or resentment sounded through his words as I had heard from most of the other Charr.
“Um… Yes… I’m on my way to Ascalon City,” I stumbled over my words and had to catch myself. Ragnvaldr had finished what I was trying to say before I could, though.
“We’re going to Old Ascalon City, but we’re looking for directions,” his voice was confident and strong. It made me remember that he was Norn, something I had all too conveniently forgotten.
“If you follow the wall to the north all the way to the east, you’ll find it in no time, travelers. But I have to warn you about the dangers there. The ghosts have been rather active lately and we’re still technically at war with them. And separatists have been on the rise, killing Charr and any human supporting them. You’re sure to find a camp of them along the way, so tread carefully. Same goes for the Flame Legion,” The scout explained, pointing first towards the northern wall in the distance and then towards the east.
“Thank you very much!” I replied and gave him a slight bow as I turned to leave. Ragnvaldr thanked him as well.
“One more thing!” He called out and we turned back to face him, “In return for this information, I ask that you help our soldiers and farmers if you see that they need any help.”
I looked to Ragnvaldr and nodded, “Of course we’ll help. Thank you again.”
The rain fell harder as we began towards the northern wall. It was almost as if it were reflecting the feelings I had started the day off with. I was hopeful now, though. Ascalon was cooling off thanks to this dreary weather but I didn’t have my coat on. Shivers flew back and forth through my entire body. It didn’t seem to affect the Norn beside me at all, though. He reached an arm around me and pulled me close as we walked together. I was grateful because he was so warm; I also didn’t mind being so close to him. Suddenly, the rain didn’t seem so bad. I wanted it to continue just for an excuse to stay in his arms.
We walked together through the testing grounds of Charr weapons. The path seemed relatively safe, but on each side of it was a new mortar or gun being tested. Ragnvaldr seemed really interested in these weapons as we walked, eyeing the mortars especially. I watched as his eyes darted from the many different kinds they were trying out.
“The Flame Legion is attacking one of our stations. We need every living body we can get out there.” I heard one of the feline race call out to a group testing guns to the right of us. He seemed desperate, frantic. It was unusual to feel such pity for a Charr.
“We’ll help.” Ragnvaldr raised his hand and told the Charr. I looked to him in a kind of worry; pitying a Charr was one thing, but actually helping them out made me cringe. I had only told the scout that I would help because I felt I needed to. He looked back to me and replied, “We promised the scout that we would help when it was needed.”
I sighed and we followed the Charr to the station, weapons drawn.